Alfred Santer Kennard (1870-1948):

his contribution to malacology, Quaternary research

and to the Geologists’ Association 1946

R. C. Preece


[239] ... One of the more colourful members of the Association, who proposed Kennard for membership, was W. J. Lewis Abbott. He was a born collector, seldom coming home empty-handed. He first attracted attention for work he had undertaken at the Admiralty section (Abbott, 1892) and at other important Pleistocene sites in the London area. After moving to Sevenoaks, he began some extensive work on the bones and shells from the Ightham fissure, shown to him by its discoverer, Benjamin Harrison. The richness of fossils in the Ightham fissure attracted a number of other enthusiastic amateurs who would meet regularly at the site. This group became known informally as the ‘Ightham Circle’ and included people such as E. T. Newton, M. A. C. Hinton, F. Corner and H. Stopes as well as Abbott, Harrison and his [240] son. ...

Abbott moved from Kent to Hastings in the mid-1890’s, and was no longer able to visit the fissure regularly, and his place in the Circle was filled by Kennard. Benjamin Harrison recorded his approval for his new arrival in a letter to his son "Kennard, who came on Sunday, proved the right sort – young, strong, full of go, and will be coming frequently. A worthy one to wear Abbott’s mantle" (Harrison, 1928, p. 204). . . .

Kennard, in common with the rest of the Circle, was a believer in the anthropogenic origin of eoliths (Hinton :& Kennard, 1905). Apparent vindication for their beliefs came in 1912, with the discovery of hominid remains, together with eoliths, in an alleged Pliocene deposit at Piltdown in Sussex. Several members of the Circle worked at Piltdown, notably Abbott, whose vivid imagination and extravagant claims now verged on the fraudulent (Blinderman, 1986). Although Kennard believed in eoliths, he was always sceptical about the Piltdown discoveries. He not only questioned whether one of the bones could really have been cut when fresh (Discussion in Dawson & Woodward, 1915) but even doubted the authenticity of the Piltdown eoliths themselves (Kennard, 1947). According to Weiner (1955), Kennard let it be known on several occasions in the 1940’s that he believed Piltdown man to be a hoax and that he knew the identity of the perpetrator. This knowledge undoubtedly results from his close association with the Ightham Circle, and several members of it have been implicated in the forgery.

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